Following the announcement that up to three-quarters of the Stormont assembly members of the DUP and four of its MPs had signed a letter of no confidence in Ms Foster, it was reported that the perpetrators of the coup had also called for Lord Dodds’ resignation as part of a clean break.
The announcement came just hours after Lord Morrow, the party chairman, announced that the competition to replace Ms Foster and Lord Dodds would take place on May 14.
Their successors would be elected by only a few dozen members of the Assembly, deputies and peers, according to party rules.
Read more: Daniel Hannan: The age of the Puritan DUP is fading. We now need modern pan-British unionism
The competition is likely to have far-reaching implications for Northern Ireland, with ministers in Whitehall increasingly concerned that Ms Foster’s successor could pose significant problems for the Northern Ireland Protocol and the future of the power-sharing agreement.
Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots is a favorite among extremists, having been a vocal opponent of post-Brexit trade deals in the province.
His rival Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the outgoing DUP leader in Westminster, is seen as the moderate candidate and will likely maintain Ms Foster’s resolve to prevent a return to the more sectarian and fundamentalist approach of the past.
Read more: Why Arlene Foster’s departure creates existential questions for DUP